Picks and Pans Review: Crash
Talk about hot wheels. The sicko characters who populate this purposefully perverse drama, as repellent a film as has come down the pike in years, consider car crashes sexually stimulating. For them, watching a video of a mannequin catapulting through a windshield or a staged reenactment of movie star James Dean's fatal smashup is as potent an aphrodisiac as Taster's Choice is for that panting couple in those coffee ads. Soon, however, merely watching isn't enough. Before you can say, "Hey, isn't that a red light?" these folks are bombing down the highway actually bumping bumpers—in every sense.
Their fictional fetish is fraught, of course, with greater meaning. Cult director David Cronenberg, who wrote the script based on J.G. Ballard's 1973 novel, seems to be asking whether these well-off Toronto professionals (and by extension, the rest of us) have become so inured to sensation that it takes ever closer brushes with death to stir any real feeling in them. Maybe, but Crash never develops its thesis or characters. Instead it becomes a repetitive, boring blur of scenes that alternate between car crash, sex, car crash, sex, until you wonder whether there is a single traffic cop on duty in all of Toronto.
With the exception of a howler of a last line, Crash doesn't even offer the satisfaction of being unintentionally funny. The actors are all glumly serious, and the sex (much of it quite explicit) is deliberately impersonal and unappealing. It was very brave of Cronenberg and his cast to make Crash, but the final result turns them all into crash dummies. (NC-17)
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